Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Article: Social Justice as a Professional Duty: Effectively Meeting Law Student Demand for Social Justice by Teaching Social Justice as a Professional Competency

New Article: Spencer Rand, Social Justice as a Professional Duty: Effectively Meeting Law Student Demand for Social Justice by Teaching Social Justice as a Professional Competency, 87 U. Cin. L. Rev. 77 (2018). Abstract below:

Teaching students to practice by considering the social justice implications of all of their actions takes a concerted, law school wide effort. Students must learn to define social justice in a way meaningful to them. They must learn to see where power imbalance is imbedded in substantive law and its application. They must learn traditional and non-traditional practice skills relevant to addressing the needs of the legally marginalized, including the ability to seek out and hear the voices of the marginalized and learning to follow their lead. They must learn that their professional identity must include striving for social justice in all of their work, whether it be work for the less powerful or work that impacts on the less powerful. Law school stakeholders are demanding this social justice focus. This is seen in the increase in law student applications, with applicants declaring that social justice is a primary motivation for attending law school. It is seen in bar associations and other professional groups calling for access to justice initiatives. It is seen in law school accreditors and educational observers calling out law schools on failing to teach professionalism, morals, and social justice values and demanding it.

This article suggests taking advantage of this convergence of demand for the benefit of the marginalized. Using the education model being adopted by law school accreditors that asks law schools to define law practice competencies and then create learning objectives toward teaching those competencies, it asks law schools to define practicing with a social justice lens as a competency lawyers must have to practice. It then asks law set the learning objectives to teach this, including that students must define social justice for themselves, learn to see whether particular laws and legal systems comport with social justice, and develop a plan to represent people and take action when social justice demands it. It suggests these objectives must not just be taught in a marginalized course or courses but across the curriculum. It suggests having students create a social justice credo throughout their time in law school that they modify throughout school as their conception of social justice and their professional identities develop. It discusses how teachers can teach about social justice, suggesting it must be done intentionally, and suggests possible goals and objectives for individual syllabi. Finally, it looks at a potential credo and describes how it could be used in competency education terms as a description of the school’s learning objectives, an exercise used to accomplish those objectives, and an assessment tool to see if they have been met.


New Article: Creative Lawyering for Social Change

New Article: Raymond H. Brescia, Creative Lawyering for Social Change, forthcoming Georgia St. L. Rev. (SSRN Oct. 2018). Abstract below:

Lawyers have long played an integral part of efforts to bring about social change. With an increasing desire to see change in the world, regardless of one’s political perspective, there is a growing interest in understanding the role that lawyers can play in bringing about such change. This type of lawyering is complex, however, and faces far more challenges than those the traditional lawyer faces in his or her work. While all lawyers solve problems on behalf of their clients, the role of the social change lawyer is more complex because the problems she seeks to address are more complex, mostly because she is not trying to operate within the existing legal system on behalf of her client, but, rather, trying to change it. Indeed, the social change lawyer often faces complex problems that require complex and creative solutions. This Article attempts to explore the nature of the creativity required of the social change lawyer by an assessment of three campaigns for social change in which lawyers played prominent roles: the effort to abolish slavery, the campaign to end Jim Crow segregation, and the movement for marriage equality. This review unearths several common components of these campaigns, which include that they typically sought incremental change, they utilized interpretative tools that helped reframe the issues affecting their clients, they brought in interdisciplinary perspectives, they sought to build coalitions based on areas where the interests of different communities might converge, and they were conscious of trends and forces occurring outside the law that were likely to affect the legal campaigns. It is through an assessment of these successful efforts, and an identification of the common characteristics of such creative problem solving for social change, that, I hope, will serve as inspiration for those working for positive social change today and in the future.

New Book: Janesville (2017)

janesville-9781501102264_hrNew Book: Amy Goldstein, Janesville: An American Story (2017).

Note: having now read this book, I do recommend it, though there are parts that will frustrate readers concerned about poverty. It tells a plant-closing story and the effect of that closing on the town of Janesville, Wisconsin. Paul Ryan is from Janesville and the frustrating parts are perhaps the pass he seems to get at times in the book–which celebrates his connection with his hometown but doesn’t go into any depth on the harms of his ideas about poverty reduction nationwide. But that critique aside, the book lets readers into the lives of those affected by the closing and shows the ways they reacted. Most powerfully, at least for me, it shows how high school kids reacted in ways to help their families and highlights the deep commitment of the teachers who helped them along the way.

New Jotwell Poverty Law Review: Hope (Wendy Bach reviewing Amna Akbar, Toward a Radical Imagination of Law, 93 NYU L. Rev. 405 (2018).

Wendy Anne Bach, Hope, JOTWELL (November 9, 2018) (reviewing Amna Akbar, Toward a Radical Imagination of Law, 93 NYU L. Rev.405 (2018)).

New Article: Civil Society and Civil Justice: Teaching with Technology to Help Close the Justice Gap for Non-Profit Organizations

New Article: Raymond H. Brescia, Alexandria Decatur, & Julia Kosineski, Civil Society and Civil Justice: Teaching with Technology to Help Close the Justice Gap for Non-Profit Organizations, Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 29, 2019 (Forthcoming). Abstract below:

Technological innovation, climate change, economic inequality, globalization, and the increased migration of individuals and families to urban settings are all changing the way humans work, relate to each other and themselves, engage with the wider world, and form community. These forces are altering the relationship of the individual to the state, and between the individual and civil society: that loose sphere of organizations, associations, and collections of individuals that exist beyond government and the business sector. These groups that make up civil society play a significant role in the lives of individuals and families throughout the world. They mediate religious worship, educate youth and adults alike, heal us when we are sick, channel competition in sports, and help individuals work collectively to topple dictators. Technological innovations are affecting how these organizations function and communicate and often play a role in the social change such organizations and networks pursue. But the organizations themselves must adapt to changing environments, new needs spurred by such change, and the ways in which the legal ecosystem is itself also changing, spurred on by technological innovation as well. This Article explores whether the technological changes afoot in society generally, and the legal services sector in particular, can expand access to justice for non-profit organizations through the delivery of web-based legal guidance. It does so by exploring one effort to help non-profits that wish to form under New York State law obtain information and guidance that helps them generate the critical documents such organizations must prepare to organize themselves under state law. This effort was the product of a class taught at Albany Law School, led by one of the co-authors, and in which the two other co-authors were enrolled as students. In this class, entitled “The Law of Social Entrepreneurship and Exempt Organizations,” the students learned not just the substantive law of non-profit entities, they also learned how to incorporate technology into the provision of legal services to non-profit groups to help address the justice gap such organizations face. This Article explores the work of this class and the ways in which the students were able to incorporate technology to improve access to justice for non-profit entities. It is our hope that this process yielded helpful insights into the ways in which one can use technology to improve access to justice for non-profit groups in particular, but also for individuals and other corporate entities as well. This Article will identify these insights and examine what implications they might have for the use of technology to improve access to justice, for both organizations and individuals. It also shows how law schools can incorporate technology-based projects that help close the justice gap generally.

UCLA Online Symposium on Gentrification, Displacement, and Dispossession

UCLA Symposium on Gentrification, Displacement, and Dispossession.

(Self-promotion post) Mini-Essay on Teaching Property Law

I have a new mini-essay out as part of the Law and Political Economy Blog’s look at teaching property. The intro essay by Jed Purdy is great and might interest a broad audience–I especially appreciated his explanation for why he moved away from writing about property after he completed his book. My mini-essay–The State as the Foundation of Property, Law and Political Economy Blog, Oct. 30, 2018–probably has a more limited audience: those who teach property law. Thanks to Luke Herrine for great edits and direction on the piece.

New Article: One-strike 2.0: How Local Governments are Distorting a Flawed Federal Eviction Law

New Article: Kathryn V. Ramsey. One-strike 2.0: How Local Governments are Distorting a Flawed Federal Eviction Law, 65 UCLA L. Rev. 1146 (2018). Abstract:

In recent years, local governments across the country have passed crime-free housing ordinances (CHOs) for private-market rental properties. These ordinances increase the risk of eviction for many tenants by requiring or encouraging private-market landlords to evict tenants for low-level criminal activity, sometimes even a single arrest. CHOs are based on a federal law known as the one-strike policy, which has been applied to public housing tenants since 1988 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002. Unlike the one-strike policy, which applies only to federal public housing tenants, CHOs put an unprecedented number of private-market tenants across the country at significant risk of eviction and its attendant consequences, including homelessness, neighborhood instability, and higher incidences of poverty. This Article examines CHOs as an outgrowth of the federal one-strike policy, and it argues that they are significantly more harmful to tenants than the one-strike policy has been. The Article identifies serious legal issues raised by CHOs and suggests that, before adopting or enforcing CHOs, municipalities should consider these legal problems in conjunction with the crime problem that CHOs purport to address and the other problems that CHOs can create. This more complete calculus weakens the case for crime-free housing ordinances in rental housing.

Coverage of HUD Moving to Work Waivers; a bit technical but interesting

Here, from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

-I should perhaps note that the blog may include a bit more housing policy stuff going forward because I was recently named a commissioner for my local housing authority so my apology in advance if I do too many housing-related posts.

New Report: Donor Trust Report

donor-trust-coverNew Report: Donor Trust Report (2018). Coverage from the Chronicle of Philanthropy here. Related videos here.